Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fires of Man by Dan Levinson - Review, Guest Post and Giveaway! World Creation in Speculative Fiction.

Happy Sunday!

I am happy to post a review of Fires of Man by Dan Levinson and the author has been so kind writing a guest post for Me and Reading: World Creation in Speculative Fiction. Let's start with the review!

Author: Dan Levinson
Title: Fires of Man
Series: Psionic Earth #1
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Publishing date: 17th of June 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 400 pages
Source: From the publisher in exchange of an honest review


Supposedly, the war between Calchis and Orion ended decades ago. But upon reporting to an isolated Orion army base for basic training, Private Stockton Finn learns the war still rages, only the weapons have changed—most disturbingly of all, Finn has been selected to become one of those weapons.

Across the border, young Calchan farm boy Aaron Waverly learns all too well just how determined his country is to win the war when he is abducted from his family's property by a sinister government operative known only as Agent. Finding himself trapped in dreary new surroundings, learning deadly skills he's never before imagined, Aaron struggles to reconcile his ephemeral faith with his harsh new reality.

As the two nations hurtle toward a resurgence of open hostilities, Finn and Aaron, along with their new friends and mentors, must rush to prepare themselves for the inevitable clash. All the while, a new archaeological find in the frozen tundra far to the north hints that the brewing conflict may only be the first of their worries...

My review:

Fires of Man by Dan Levinson is an interesting book. It's well written and the settings are quite unique. You will experience an alternative world, which is somewhat similar to ours and yet very different. There are two worlds - Calchis and Orion - which are on the edge of a war, wanting nothing less than a supremacy. 

Let me start with saying, that even though it's a first novel in a series, it can't be read as stand alone book. Fires of Man introduces you the two superpowers, the worlds of Calchis and Orion and to its people. It consists of many subplots which characters are crossing each others paths and a lot of characters who doesn't. It builds up to a whole lot to happen, but it doesn't conclude anything. There is no clear ending, you are left with many questions about what will happen to the characters. 

What's also specific for Fires of Man is, that I couldn't in point clear main characters. It's not necessarily a bad thing, because they all have a story to tell and the characters are very engaging and well written. It's just that there is nobody  specific whose story is more significant than others. There are some similarities to George R.R. Martin where you never know what's going to happen next and which characters is going to be killed off in a book. The emphasis is not only on one or two characters, but on many and their stories are equally important and fascinating.

What I loved about Fires of Man is that it emphasizes a lot on how war influences people, be it how the characters grow from kids to a man and then forced to develop into men to soldiers. I think that part of the story I liked the best. It builds tension where first there is a cold war and you know, even before it happens, that there will be a real one.

It's well written and the dialogue was very good, it seemed real and believable, even though it dealt with different worlds and with people with psionic powers. I also think that it would be suitable for the big screen, meaning that it was written in a way which created pictures, it's very visual in my opinion. It's like you get scenes of different situations and people and then it switches to a parallel story in the book. 

Fires of Man gives a great start for the series. Well done!

5 Flowers!

5 stars!

Thanks goes to the publisher for providing me with the review copy!

And now, ladies and gentlemen, give a warm welcome to the author of Fires of Man, Dan Levinson! He has written a guest post about creating a fictional world.

World Creation in Speculative Fiction

There’s no tried and true method for the creation of a fantasy or science fiction world. One might begin by sketching a map, hashing out national borders, allegiances, geographical landmarks. Or one could start with the mythology—gods and goddesses, superior alien races, the origins of magic, or certain kinds of technology. One could look to established history; author George R.R. Martin of the A Song of Ice and Fire series has often noted how he was inspired by the War of the Roses. Whatever strikes the spark of inspiration.
In conceiving the world of the Psionic Earth series, I looked to our own world. There’s a certain level of ambiguity in the “Earth” I’ve conceived: Is it actually our world? A parallel universe? Alternate timeline? A far future or distant past? While these questions will be answered, what I’ll say for now is that I wanted to create a reflection. Something akin to what one might see in a funhouse mirror: distorted, topsy-turvy, yet instantly recognizable. Using our own world as a base, I extrapolated, asking myself “what if?” questions. What if the United States and Russia were not across the Pacific, but rather were neighbors, like the US and Canada?
This is not to say I cast Orion as the United States, nor Calchis as Russia; I’m simply drawing a comparison to their troubled history, juxtaposed with the unavoidable trade, interaction, and cooperation in today’s global economy and political sphere. It was this base idea—having these two superpowers, with differing philosophies and a strained, yet necessary relationship, existing side-by-side—from which Fires of Man, and the Psionic Earth series as a whole, sprang. I then went on to find other corollaries with our own history, and played with them.
Alternately, I’m currently in the planning stages of my next large series aimed at the adult audience: A dark fantasy series, likely to have six or seven books. While it’s unlikely I’ll begin to write this series for some time yet, I’m working on the world itself with a close friend of mine—a dreamer and creative personality, his mind brimming with ideas.
Therefore, this world’s method of conception is wholly different from Psionic Earth’s. We’re crafting lore, figuring out ancient histories stretching over millennia, examining both the “meta-mythology,” as it were, and the smallest of minutiae. One might say that we’re first sketching out the skeleton of the thing, then filling in the organs, the circulatory system and nerves, and then, at last, the flesh. We’ve set down a unique system of magic, all sorts of creatures and monsters, political systems, geography, and, of course, our characters and the overarching direction of the plot. As there’s no impetus for me to actually put pen to paper for some time yet, we’ve allowed ourselves the freedom to explore this world in whatever fashion we like, allowing inspiration and our imaginations to lead us.
Clearly, my process has differed from project to project. I can say, however, that I’ve achieved the best results by allowing my ideas to percolate, to develop. Creating a world is a process of discovery, and all great discoveries take time.

What kind of world will you create?

Thank you, Dan!

About the author:

Dan Levinson is a New York-based fiction writer, screenwriter, and librettist.
His debut novel, the sci-fi war epic FIRES OF MAN (#1 in the PSIONIC EARTH series), is due out June 17, 2014 from Jolly Fish Press.
Dan has studied with authors Irini Spanidou and John Reed, playwright Daniel Goldfarb, and screenwriter Jacob Krueger, among others. He is a sometimes-member of the Paragraph NY writer's workspace, and can frequently be seen attending their monthly events. He graduated from NYU with a BFA in 2007.
He currently resides on Long Island.

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